Blogging on The Brightside

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." -The Little Engine That Could

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”

–Joshua 1:9

This post was brought to you by a close friend, Katie Trenney. There are moments in life where the “bright side” is more difficult to find. This post reflects about on that kind of moment. In an instant, your world can be shaken to the point of complete and total disorientation. You don’t know which way is up, your faith is shaken. Believing in the good and finding what you can hold onto during those dark times is what keeps us going. We hope that Kevin and his friends are able to find the strength to make it through this extremely difficult times. Our thoughts and prayers go out to each of you.

Two nights ago, I attended the Taylor Swift concert in Pittsburgh with a couple friends.  After tailgating for a few hours and then listening to Taylor sing about her feelings, we piled back into the car to make the drive home.  About 20 minutes into our trip, tragedy struck.  My friend Kevin, who was sitting in the back seat with me, began to have a seizure.  At first we thought he was kidding, but quickly realized that it was real.

Sarah, our driver, pulled over immediately.  The girl sitting in the passenger seat, Rebecca, jumped out of the car and called 911 while Sarah and I quickly tried to get Kevin lay down onto his side.  As Kevin laid on the backseat of the car becoming sick, Rebecca struggled to give the 911 operator our location, and Sarah and I yelled at Kevin trying to get him to respond.  When the police arrived, they tried asking Kevin simple questions.

“What’s your name?”

“What year is it?”

“Where are you?”

Growing more and more frustrated, Kevin tried to answer the questions but he was unable to respond. The ambulance arrived shortly after and decided that he needed to be transported to a hospital.  They took him up the road to St. Margaret’s for preliminary testing, and Sarah, Rebecca, and I continued our drive home – drained and shaken from the events of that night.  At about 4 a.m. I got a text from Kevin’s mother telling me that there were abnormalities on his brain and he was being sent to UPMC for more intense testing.  Later, I got the news of the bleeding in Kevin’s brain.  While his motor skills remained strong, his speech and memory had been affected.
Yesterday, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook were flooded with posts about Kevin.  Positive thoughts and prayers were sent to him throughout the day from his loving family and friends.  Kevin is still in the ICU at UPMC and is being monitored by doctors.  They’re not sure if his speech and memory will come back 100%, but have confidence that he will improve during speech therapy.

The words of Joshua 1:9 comfort me.  This verse has become life verse. Over the past 36(ish) hours, I have said it to myself over and over again.  It’s a constant reminder that God is in control.  Kevin is in good hands and will (hopefully) come out of this stronger and better than ever.
If you have a minute to spare today, say a prayer for my friend Kevin. Ask God to help him be strong.

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“What day is it?” It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. My favorite day,” said Pooh.”

— A.A. Milne

A little throwback from childhood to remind us that every day should be our favorite day.

What makes something our favorite? It could be new and exciting. It could be comfortable and familiar. It could be short and sweet or long and everlasting. The best thing about a “favorite” is that it is as unique as we are.

Fill each day with comfort and familiarity. Surround yourself with new and exciting things. Do something every day that makes it feel like your favorite.

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“Uncertainty is the refuge of hope.”

— Henri Frederic Amiel

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The Oak Tree

It’s not often that inspiration strikes me in a Hallmark Store. However, I spend enough time there that it would make sense to stumble across something meaningful.

For the longest time, I have found meaning in oak trees. They have made their way into my life, one way or another. Whether I was surrounded by them at college (our beloved Oak Grove) or they found their way into my dreams, they hold a special place in my heart. They provide me a sense of comfort. Their towering size, their gentle leaves, their beautiful colors, and strong roots. They make me feel safe when I see them. All the better symbol to be drawn to when faced with challenges or disappointment.

It was upon a visit to buy a card thanking someone for their I had that brought me towards a very welcome reminder. Delicate lime ribbon tied in a perfect bow, sheer enough to draw attention to itself without taking anything from the card’s message, cascaded down from the top of a photograph: a majestic mighty oak. Of course I was intrigued… and instantly comforted. Sweeping aside the soft ribbon, I began to read the card itself…

A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,
Then snapped its bark
until the oak was tired and stark.
But still the oak tree held its ground
while other trees feel all around….

The weary wind gave up and spoke,
“How can you still be standing, Oak?”
The oak tree said, “I know that you
can break each branch of mine in two,
carry every leaf away,
shake my limbs, and make me sway.
But I have roots stretched in the earth,
growing stronger since my birth.
You’ll never touch them, for you see,
they are the deepest part of me.
Until today, I wasn’t sure
of just how much I could endure.
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,
I’m stronger that I ever knew.

Inside the card, the message reads…
Especially now,
try to remember
that you’re stronger
than any problem
you encounter
or any disappointment
life will bring.

Thinking of you,
believing in you,
caring for you.

Sometimes inspiration sneaks up on us when we least expect it. And sometimes a hopeful reminder finds its way to you when you feel most vulnerable.

Here is my friendly reminder to you. Know ALWAYS that you are stronger than anything with which you may be faced. You are bigger than any disappointment. And always, there is someone thinking of you, believing in you, and caring about you. Whether you feel like one of its leaves or the tower oak itself, it doesn’t matter. Believe that this, much like all other things, will pass, and it will make you stronger if you let it.

Dig deep. Find the passion you’ve been lacking or the strength you seem to have misplaced. Root yourself in the positive.

Bend, don’t break. Let the gusting winds of change stir your soul, but not snap your resolve.

Stand tall. You are a beacon to so many that you may not even realize. They take comfort in your presence.

You’re the oak tree. Now act like it.

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“There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.”

— Charlotte Brontë

You are a comfort to someone. Knowing that someone will read this and find comfort in it is enough to keep us happy. Make yourself happy by knowing how happy you make others.


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